Over at Greg's today I discuss how Herman Cain, in the grand tradition of Republican politicians jumping into local zoning disputes when Muslims are involved, has declared his opposition to a mosque in Murfreesboro Tennessee, saying the building was “an infringement and an abuse of our freedom of religion.”
A little background: The proposed mosque in Tennessee became a target of arson and vandalism in September of last year, not long after the so-called “Ground Zero Mosque” became the freak show story of the summer. A local group tried to block construction, claiming that Islam wasn’t actually a religion. The plaintiffs’ attorney argued that Muslims aren’t entitled to the same rights as others because “these are the same people who flew jets into the World Trade Center on 9/11,” and said the whole thing was an effort to bring Tennessee under Taliban-style Islamic law. The whole controversy prompted the Civil Rights Division of the Justice Department to file a brief noting that Islam is in fact, a religion.
As with Cain’s unconstitutional religious test however, the problem for him and other mosque opponents is not sharia law. It’s U.S. law. There are both federal and state laws on the books that prevent local zoning laws from being used to block construction of religious institutions, which is why opponents argue that Islam isn’t a religion. At both the federal and the state level, those bills were the work of Republicans — it just didn’t occur to them at the time that “religious freedom” applied to Muslims. The judge, not surprisingly, agreed that Islam is a religion and let construction go forward.
The best part? Last year Tennessee residents were polled on the subject, and 66 percent said they supported it or were indifferent. Only 22 percent were opposed. So Cain is on the opposite side of the issue from the vast majority of residents, pandering to a rump of anti-Muslim dead enders in the Republican Party base.